The Motive (Dismas Hardy Series #11) [NOOK Book]

Overview

With their park view and old-fashioned detail, the Victorian houses on San Francisco's Steiner Street were highly valuable. But with their wooden construction, they were also  highly vulnerable. So when Paul Hanover's multimillion-dollar home went up in flames, it was all over very quickly. And when the bodies of Hanover and his girlfriend were found in the charred debris, it appeared that the end came even more quickly for them-judging from the bullet holes in their heads. But this isn't just any double ...
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The Motive (Dismas Hardy Series #11)

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Overview

With their park view and old-fashioned detail, the Victorian houses on San Francisco's Steiner Street were highly valuable. But with their wooden construction, they were also  highly vulnerable. So when Paul Hanover's multimillion-dollar home went up in flames, it was all over very quickly. And when the bodies of Hanover and his girlfriend were found in the charred debris, it appeared that the end came even more quickly for them-judging from the bullet holes in their heads. But this isn't just any double homicide. Hanover was a friend-and donor-to the mayor, who wants answers. And in trying to provide them, Abe Glitsky and Dismas Hardy will face an old lover and an old enemy-and follow a trail of evidence that stretches far beyond their usual jurisdiction.



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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Bestselling crime writer John Lescroart has crafted a complex tale of arson, murder, and political mayhem in this mystery featuring San Francisco lawyer Dismas Hardy and police detective Abe Glitsky.

At first it looks like a simple case of arson, covering up a high-profile murder-suicide. But it soon becomes clear that there's nothing simple about this case. And when the mayor asks Deputy Chief of Inspectors Abe Glitsky to ride herd on loose-cannon homicide detective Dan Cuneo in a politically sensitive investigation into the death of one of Her Honor's biggest supporters, that quickly puts both cops in the hot seat. With a history of suspicion and betrayal behind them, it's no surprise that Glitsky and Cuneo disagree about practically everything, from prime suspect to probable cause. The one thing they do agree upon is the fact they don't want to work this or any other case together. It doesn't help that Cuneo's suspect turns out to be Hardy's old flame -- or that the talented lawyer agrees to defend her -- or that Glitsky refuses to drop his own search for another suspect. An accusation of collusion could lead to an investigation that Glitsky and Hardy definitely cannot afford. But with evidence hard to come by and politics complicating the case, it all comes down to finding the motive. Sue Stone

Patrick Anderson
Before Turow and Grisham, novels by lawyers were rare. Today it seems as though half the lawyers in America are trying to write fiction. Of late I've praised thrillers by lawyers Robert Reuland, William Lashner, Stephen Horn and Dylan Schaffer, but Grisham and Turow remain the two best-known writers in the genre. There is, however, a third novelist at work today who deserves to be considered alongside Turow and Grisham. His name is John Lescroart (it's French and pronounced Les-kwah), and he has just published "The Motive," the 13th installment in his series about two friends in San Francisco, defense lawyer Dismas Hardy and homicide detective Abe Glitsky. I've read six of the Hardy-Glitsky novels, and they're all good, but The Motive is the best of them, a smashing legal thriller that surpasses anything Grisham ever wrote and bears comparison with Turow.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
In the latest installment of the Glitsky-Hardy crime-solving series (The 13th Juror; The Second Chair; etc.), San Francisco-based Lescroart again demonstrates his mastery of how things work in the city by the bay. Arson investigators at a Victorian townhouse fire do not call in Abe Glitsky or Dismas Hardy when they discover two bodies believed to be the remains of influential businessman Paul Hanover and his girlfriend, Missy D'Amiens. Glitsky, now deputy chief of inspectors, doesn't handle individual cases, and attorney Dismas Hardy has long since left the police force. Sgt. Dan Cuneo takes charge, quickly jumping to conclusions and slowly rekindling his grudge against the detecting duo. Unhappy with Cuneo's approach, the mayor puts Glitsky on the job, while Hardy is hired by Hanover's daughter-in-law, who was also Hardy's college sweetheart and is now a murder defendant with no alibi but plenty of motive. Parallel inquiries uncover contradictory evidence as well as loose ends: at the time of his death, Hanover was up for a federal appointment, his company was up for a city contract and his girlfriend has a mysterious past. Lescroart draws the reader in with a step-by-step description of the fire, mesmerizes with an account of the intricacies of the auto-towing business and winds up with a disturbing parable of intrigue abroad, adding the wistful touch of a new baby in the Glitsky household. Lescroart may be testing the waters for fiction with an international flavor. For now, the winningly ironic author remains more credible on urban and legal ground than spy craft, but his authentic voice, methodical presentation and ability to juggle red herrings until all pieces fall into place will keep fans following wherever his cop-lawyer friends-heroes lead. Agent, Barney Karpfinger. Mystery Guild main selection; Literary Guild, BOMC, Doubleday Book Club featured alternates. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
An arson fire in an exclusive San Francisco neighborhood ignites this latest Abe Glitsky/Dismas Hardy collaboration. Two bodies are found among the ashes, prominent local mover and shaker Paul Hanover and his fiancee, Michelle D'Amiens. The police investigation is partially bungled by Abe's resentful colleague, and the victim's daughter-in-law, Catherine Hanover, becomes Dismas's client. The plot grabs the listener early and doesn't let go; the descriptions of investigative and courtroom procedures are impeccable. Reader David Colacci handles a wide variety of new and familiar characters with great skill. Highly recommended.-Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, IA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781440620768
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 12/27/2005
  • Series: Dismas Hardy Series , #11
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 624
  • Sales rank: 33,835
  • File size: 660 KB

Meet the Author

John T. Lescroart

John Lescroart is the author of nineteen previous novels, including The Betrayal, The Suspect, The Hunt Club, The Motive, The Second Chair, The First Law, The Oath, The Hearing, and Nothing But the Truth. He lives in Northern California.





Biography

John Lescroart has made a name (albeit an unpronounceable one!) for himself as the author of crime thrillers, most notably an acclaimed series starring the San Francisco lawyer-and-cop team of Dismas Hardy and Abe Glitsky. But the road to bestsellerdom has been paved with more than a few unexpected detours for this hardworking novelist, who has been writing all his adult life but who only started to chart big around the mid-1990s.

Lescroart (pronounced les-KWA) grew up with an equal interest in music and writing. After college, he concentrated his energies on the former, performing alone and in bands around the San Francisco Bay area and scribbling in whatever spare time he could find. But he set a deadline for himself, and when he had not "made it" by age 30, he quit music to focus on writing. Within weeks he finished up a novel-in-progress based on his experiences living in Spain. He submitted it to a former high school teacher who was less than dazzled; but the man's wife loved it and entered the manuscript in a local competition. Although it would not formally see print for another four years, Sunburn won the prestigious Joseph Henry Jackson Award, beating out Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire for the best novel by a California author.

To support his art, Lescroart held down a dizzying succession of jobs -- from house painting and bartending to working as a legal secretary. At one point, just as he was ready to enroll in the creative writing program at Amherst, he was offered a lucrative gig he could not afford to pass up, and graduate school fell by the wayside. As the years passed, some of his books were published, but he never felt financially secure enough to write full-time. Then, in 1989, he contracted spinal meningitis after body-surfing in contaminated seawater. He emerged from his life-threatening ordeal with a new resolve, quit the last of his day jobs, and became a real working novelist.

It took a few tries for Dismas Hardy to become the fully realized character Lescroart's fans have come to know and love. Debuting in 1989's Dead Irish, Hardy began life as an ex-cop/ex-attorney turned bartender and did not return to the practice of law until his third appearance in Hard Evidence (1993). From then on, interest grew in the series, which has snowballed into a lucrative franchise for the author. In 2006, Lescroart introduced another San Francisco-based dynamic duo, private investigator Wyatt Hunt and homicide detective Devin Juhle, in The Hunt Club. Slightly younger than Hardy and Glitsky but drawn with the same humanizing brush, the protagonists of this series have proved immensely popular with readers.

Incidentally, Lescroart's writing success has allowed him to return to his other love: He has founded his own independent label, CrowArt Records, which showcases some of his own music and produces CDs by a number of artist/friends. At long last, John Lescroart is able to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Good To Know

In our exclusive interview, Lescroart let us in on some fun and fascinating insights about himself and his life as a writer:

"First, it's Less-KWAH. Here's a tip -- don't have that name. Get a pen name that people can pronounce and remember. Just this Saturday, I gave a talk at a well-attended writers' conference. There were probably a hundred people in the room, and the talk went very well. Five minutes later, I was in the bathroom washing my hands and around the corner, I heard a guy tell another that he'd just heard the greatest talk by John le Carré. 'You know, The Tailor of Panama and the Smiley books? Good stuff. I'm going to go buy all his books.'"

"Second, I didn't have to quit the day job to keep writing. One of the most productive times in my early writing life was while I had a full-time job as a word processor in a law firm and also worked part-time at night, often working until 11:00 p.m. How did I do any writing, you might ask? Well, I did it between 6:00 and 8:00 in the morning, four pages a day, and published five books in six years. But because a) I was making some money doing 'regular' work and didn't have to be scrounging for coin and b) I was panic-stricken at the little time that was left in the day to write, I wound up becoming more efficient."

"Third, I don't wait on inspiration, and I refuse to acknowledge 'writer's block.' I simply sit down and put words on the paper. It's like being a carpenter -- writers build things. Carpenters don't wake up and say, 'Hmm, I'm not in the mood to drive nails today.' No, they go to work and do the job. It's not very romantic, but that's how I approach writing."

"If you have a good relationship, nurture it. The great god of Writing with a capital "W" isn't the only thing in life. It can be a great part and a big part, but it shouldn't consume you on a daily basis and shouldn't make your life miserable all the time. Try not to get nuts about the greater success of other writers -- we're really not in competition with other writers. We're only trying to outdo ourselves, to get better at our jobs. Go on dates. Spend some time outside (fishing is good, so is skiing, hiking, swimming, jogging). Stay in shape -- writing is a marathon. Don't drink too much. Have as much fun as you can."

Lescroart used to perform as "Johnny Capo" in a group called Johnny Capo and His Real Good Band. Although he no longer performs with that outfit, he still pursues music as the founder of his very own independent label called CrowArt Records. The first project on the label was Date Night, a CD of his own compositions performed by master pianist Antonio Castillo de la Gala. Followers of Lescroart's writing may recognize the in-joke in the album's title. As he explains on his web site, "Fans of Dismas Hardy will know that Diz and Frannie (Dismas's wife) set aside every Wednesday night for some time alone together -- it's their date night."

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    1. Also Known As:
      John Lescroart
    2. Hometown:
      El Macero, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 14, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Houston, Texas
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English with Honors, UC Berkeley, 1970

Read an Excerpt

1
By location alone, a block from Fillmore Street as it passes through the upwardly challenged Hayes Valley, Alamo Square would not be among the sexier neighborhoods in San Francisco. But one of the most popular and recognizable posters of the City by the Bay captures a row of beautifully restored and vibrantly painted three- and four-story Victorians that face the park on Steiner Street-the so-called "Painted Ladies." The poster created a certain cachet for the area such that the cheapest of these houses now go for three-plus. Million.

The blaze at Paul Hanover's, in the middle of this block, began around 8:00 P.M. on May 12, although the first alarm wasn't called in until nearly 8:30. Fires love old Victorians. Even though Hanover's house had been stripped to the bare bones twenty years earlier-retrofitted for earthquakes and freshly insulated with fire-resistant material-it is the nature of Victorian design to have funky interior spaces, oddly-shaped rooms, crannies and closets and unusual passages. Within the walls, since heat wants to travel up, fires employ the vertical stud lines as flues, almost as chimneys, to transport themselves effortlessly and quickly up and up into the roof spaces, where billowing smoke is most often noticed first.

Even in a neighborhood of great sensitivity to the threat of fire-of old, very valuable wooden houses in wall-to-wall proximity-no one noticed anything amiss at Hanover's until the fire had progressed to the unfinished attic. The late-arriving fog camouflaged the first appearance of the smoke, and the wind blew it away. By the time one of the local residents realized that what he was actually seeing was not fog butthick clouds of smoke pouring out from under the eaves of his neighbor's roof, the fire was well advanced.

As soon as the first alarm's fire trucks arrived-three engines, two trucks, two battalion chiefs, an assistant chief and a rescue squad-the two-man aerial ladder team from the first engine began climbing to Hanover's roof, intending to ventilate it by cutting a hole into it with axes and chainsaws. Meanwhile, four men in Nomex turnout pants and coats and wearing Scott Air-Paks-the initial attack squad-got to the front door, found it unlocked and opened it right up. Although they were armed with Akron fog nozzles that could spray water over a wide angle and get them closer to the flames, in this case they were greeted by a roiling cloud of hot thick black smoke, impossible to see through. They could make no progress.

Al Daly, officer of the initial attack squad, spoke matter-of-factly into the headpiece of his walkie- talkie. "Front door is breached, Norm. We got a working fire here." Daly was speaking to his battalion chief, Norm Shaklee, out front in the street. The words conveyed great urgency. A working fire meant they would need at least one more alarm-four more engines, another truck, two more chiefs. In a house this size with so much exposure to the homes on either side, this working fire could go to five alarms, San Francisco's maximum.

All four stories of Hanover's home might already be-probably were-involved. Shaklee, in his white helmet, placed the next alarm call and looked up as the sound of chainsaws stopped. Over the roof, he saw a churning pillar of black smoke erupt into the sky, and spoke into his walkie-talkie. "They're through on the roof, Al. Back out a minute."

He was telling Daly that ventilation was about to start working, potentially a very dangerous moment. If the smoke inside the house was hot enough-and no one knew if it was-the addition of oxygen to it might at this time cause a tremendous and often lethal backdraft explosion. So the initial attack squad waited in a kind of suspension down the front steps out in the street until, a minute and forty seconds later, the smoke column spewing from the roof suddenly exploded into a fireball that lit the night for blocks around and rose to heights of a hundred feet and more.

By now, the first hoses had been attached to the hydrant at the corner, and eight firefighters on each of a couple of them were blasting six hundred gallons of water per minute into the open space. For all the apparent good the firefighters were doing, they might as well have been standing around spitting on the flames, but appearances in this case were deceiving. The hydrant water was lowering the temperature sufficiently so that Daly and his squad could advance again into the building.

Because of the ventilation, the smoke that filled the foyer had now begun to dissipate upward, as did the thick cloud of steam generated by the water from the hoses. Within a few seconds after the hose teams stopped soaking the entryway, Daly and his squad were back at the front door. With his night helmet's beam on and glowing, he had relatively clear sight lines through the foyer to the house beyond, to the flames still licking at the walls on all sides. Wielding his Akron, spraying in a wide arc, he advanced into the darkness, following the beam on his helmet. All around was noise and chaos-the rush of air behind him as the conflagration sucked it in, the roar of the actual fire, the creaking and splintering of wood, the hail of ax blows, disembodied voices yelling both within and outside the building.

Daly sprayed and advanced, sprayed and advanced. One foot or so at a time. The foyer was circular, high-ceilinged and quite large, perhaps fourteen feet in diameter. He could make out the shapes of burning furniture along the walls-what appeared to have been a coatrack, a sideboard, maybe an umbrella stand or wastebasket. Drapes over a pair of windows, curved to the shape of the house, were all but incinerated. One opening to Daly's right led into another open room, and directly ahead of him another doorway fed into a hall. Everywhere he looked there was flame-total involvement of the ground floor.

Despite the hose's soaking, the fire was growing again, heating up. It was excruciatingly hot, dangerously hot. Daly felt a sloshing like water in his ear, but knew that it wasn't water. It was his earwax, melting. He had to get out of here, right now. He wasn't going to be able to check for potential rescue victims until the fire died somewhat, and by then-by now, he knew-anything living in the structure would have died as well.

Still he pushed forward, forcing himself for another step or two, spraying as he went. It was full night, his only light his helmet beam. Looking down at the entrance to the hallway, he suddenly became aware of two shapes that stopped him where he stood. Leaning in for a closer look, not that he needed it, he forced himself to speak in his most neutral tone. "There's two bodies in here, Norm. In the foyer."

Out in the street, the second-alarm units had begun to arrive and Shaklee was issuing orders to nine people at once back by the rehab station, which itself was already nearly overwhelmed supplying drinks, fresh air bottles and first aid. He asked Daly to repeat what he'd just said, and he did, adding, "No ambulance needed." Which meant they were obviously dead.

Shaklee took only another second to process the information, then turned and spoke to his operator-aide, who functioned as gopher in the field. "Find Becker," he said, "and put in a call to homicide."

Arnie Becker, the forty-three-year-old lead arson investigator attached to the Bureau of Fire Investigation, arrived with the second-alarm unit. In situations like this, Becker's task was to determine the origin of the blaze. To do that, he'd have to enter the building and investigate all the indicators-"V" patterns on walls, decalcification of Sheetrock, "alligatoring" of studs, condition of electrical components and so on-and by doing so, hope to locate the spot where the fire began, and if possible determine what might have caused it.

Becker was a twenty-year veteran of the fire department. In San Francisco his whole working life, he was particularly familiar with Victorians, and he knew that this house, with all the places in which a fire could hide, would in all likelihood burn through the night and perhaps well into the next morning. He wasn't going to have an answer anytime soon.

But that didn't mean he didn't have a lot to do. A huge crowd of onlookers had coalesced on the block, and more were streaming out of houses both up and down the street and across the open space of Alamo Square behind them. This was his potential witness pool-people he and his team would need to talk to. Some percentage of them might live on the block, might have seen something suspicious.

He needed all the information he could find from a near-infinite universe of possibilities, the most tantalizing one being that if this fire was arson, if someone had started it, then that person was probably among the crowd, enjoying his handiwork, possibly even sitting in one of the cypress trees in Alamo Square getting sexual satisfaction from it. Becker had seen it before.

In San Francisco, police officers from the hit & run detail are assigned to fire investigation, so Becker had a staff of helpers and he sent them out to talk to everybody they could. They would not conduct formal interviews-not now, anyway-but he wanted names and phone numbers of everybody. If people didn't want to provide that, that could be instructive. If still others wouldn't shut up, that might tell him something as well. Becker didn't know anything, including what he didn't know. So this was his chance to start gathering information from whatever source presented itself, and he took it very seriously indeed. His men fanned out to either end of the crowd and were working it to the inside and from behind.

Becker himself was on his way to talk to the neighbor who'd called in the fire and who had waited around to help guide the trucks when they'd arrived, not that they had needed it by then. But suddenly Becker's partner in the Arson Unit, J. P. Dodd-twenty-eight years old, Army-trained, competent yet relaxed, appeared at his elbow. The night around them was a kaleidoscope of lights in the darkness-the yellow flickering fire, the red bubbles on the trucks, the white glare from the firemen's helmets, now the kleigs of the TV camera crews. Dodd's earnest face looked particularly grave. "They've found two bodies, Arn. Shaklee needs you to come on up."

The fire still raged in the back of the house and on the upper stories. The two manned fire hoses at the front door snaked across the floor of the foyer and disappeared out the right-hand doorway somewhere back into the inferno. Becker, now suited up in his turnout coat and night helmet, his Scotts down over his face, also held a wide-beam flashlight that he trained on the bodies. He squatted like a baseball catcher, having learned that to put a knee on the floor was an invitation to pain and suffering.

The clothing had been burned off where they had been exposed, but even though both figures were lying on their backs, he couldn't tell what sex either had been. One was larger, and one smaller, so they were possibly a man and a woman, but he wouldn't be sure until the coroner was finished with them. The hair and any distinguishing characteristics on the faces, likewise, were burned away.

Something in the resting attitudes struck him, though. He had seen many dead people before, the victims of fire, as well as victims of murder and/or suicide, who were at fire scenes but dead before they burned. In his experience, the bodies of people who died from fire or smoke inhalation as the blaze grew around them tended to curl protectively into a fetal position. Victims of murder or suicide most often lay as they fell, and these two bodies fit that profile. There was still the characteristic drawing up of the extremities as the flesh cooked, but it did not strongly resemble the curled-up bodies he'd seen of victims who'd died by fire and fire alone.

Suspicious by nature and now by circumstance, Becker reached for a flashlight-like device he wore on his belt-the multi-gas-detecting AIM-32/50. Turning it on, he waved it down the sides of the smaller victim-the one nearest to the front door-and wasn't exactly stunned to see that it registered the presence of gasoline.

So, Becker thought, this was probably arson. And from the attitudes of the bodies, it was quite possibly a murder, or a murder/suicide, as well.

Becker tucked in his gas detector, then trained his flashlight again on the smaller body in front of him. Directly over his head, a deafening crash shook the building and rained charcoal down over him, but he barely heard or noted it. The small and perfectly round hole high in the back of the head, above and behind where the ear should have been located-it had burned away-commanded all of his attention. Stepping over the smaller torso, Becker moved over the still-squishy rug, squatted and shone his light on the other victim. Tucked under the side of the torso, a glint of metal shone up when his beam hit it. Becker wasn't going to touch anything at this point, but he lowered his light's trajectory and saw enough to realize that he was looking at the barrel of a gun.

At a little after 11:00 P.M., Inspector Sergeant Dan Cuneo of San Francisco's homicide detail parked his unmarked car on the opposite side of Alamo Square and began to make his way through the large, awestruck, worried crowd. His immediate sense was that this fire was nowhere near to being controlled. Three houses on the block now appeared to be burning, and in the crowd he overheard snatches of panicked conversations, some from what must have been residents. People staring mesmerized, some crying, some talking in hushed tones. As he came closer, he noticed a cordoned-off command area on the steps up the street that led into the park.

Cuneo knew where he needed to go, and he made a beeline toward the white helmet that seemed to hover above the crowd. The white helmet belonged to the incident commander. Every fire scene had an IC, and his power within that setting was absolute. The president of the United States could show up at a fire, wanting to get a better look, and the IC could order him to chill for a while and that would be the end of the discussion.

Cuneo got close enough to make out some of the faces that had gathered around this IC-the name tag over his left pocket said "Shaklee." He was taller than Cuneo's own six feet. Cuneo pushed his way through the crowd, excused himself and presented his badge. Shaklee nodded distractedly, said something into his walkie-talkie, came back to Cuneo. "You need to see Becker." He pointed toward the steps. "The guy talking to the woman in the leather jacket."

Cuneo nodded his thanks and started walking over. He was an edgy man in his early forties, unable to keep still or quiet-he could not eat or listen to a witness or a colleague without humming-and this trait had kept him from retaining a regular partner in homicide. For the past year or more, he'd been working strictly solo. His fellow inspectors considered him a character, but not quite a weirdo. It was a critical distinction.

Handsome in an unusual way, Cuneo's face had an oddly misshapen character as well, almost as though it had once been broken down to its integral pieces and then imperfectly reassembled. His nose initially protruded to a ridge, then hooked left and went flat as though someone had pushed it in like a thumbtack. At times he appeared cross-eyed. He'd obviously survived a serious bout with teenage acne, but instead of scarring, the skin over his cheeks had taken on a stretched, almost shiny look-maybe too many skin peels. An inventory of the individual parts wouldn't indicate it, but somehow the mishmash came together in a way that pleased his girlfriends.

Now he was at the steps. Even here across the street and back into the shelter of the park, the fire was making it uncomfortably warm. Cuneo grabbed a Styrofoam cup of water from a table someone had set up and got himself close enough to listen to Becker and the woman in the leather coat. She wasn't a kid- maybe, Cuneo figured, about his age-but she was still very attractive. Cuneo's antennae for women were always up-he couldn't help himself and saw no reason to change. Close up, he noticed that the woman's jacket hung open, partially revealing an all-grown-up but tight-looking body in a blue silk blouse, and below a thin waist tucked into designer jeans. The woman's stylish medium-length hair picked up highlights from the flames. One of the ageless babes, he thought, as he auto- matically checked for a wedding ring-not that it always mattered. She wore one.

He moved a step closer, started flicking the side of his cup with his fingers.

"... as soon as I saw it on the television," the woman was saying. "I was just over here with Paul this afternoon, so I knew exactly ..."

Becker held up a finger, stopping her, directed a flat gaze to Cuneo. "Can I help you?"

Cuneo quickly brought his cup to his mouth and flicked free the last of the ice. Flashing his badge, he mumbled around the small cubes. "Sorry. Dan Cuneo. Homicide."

Becker stuck a hand out. "Becker. Arson. And that's what this is."

The woman turned to face Cuneo. "You're with homicide? Is somebody dead in there then?" Back to Becker. "You know that? God, it's got to be Paul."

Cuneo: "Paul who?"

"Paul Hanover. It's his house." She turned all the way around and stared back at what was left of the place. By this time, the fire had collapsed much of the structure. The front doorway still stood, and most of the second floor, but the third and fourth stories were all but gone. "He's in there? You've got to get him out before ..."

Becker cut her off. "There's no reason to get him out, ma'am. He was dead a half hour ago. If you knew him, I'm sorry." Pointing toward the house, Becker said to Cuneo, "They're directing the master streams- that's those major hoses-to try and preserve as much of your crime scene as they can. But there's no telling."

Cuneo nodded. "The call said there were two of them."

"Yep."

"Oh my God," the woman said again. "That's got to be Missy, too."

Cuneo turned from the house to the woman, introduced himself again, flashed his badge. "And who are you, please?"

"Catherine Hanover. I'm Paul's daughter-in-law. Paul Hanover. He lives, lived here."

"Excuse me," Cuneo said, "are you talking about the Paul Hanover?"

"If you mean the lawyer, yes." She looked back to the house. "I can't believe he's in there."

"Somebody's in there," Becker said, "but we don't know it's Mr. Hanover. Or Missy."

"Who's Missy?" Cuneo asked.

"Michelle D'Amiens, Paul's girlfriend. Fiancée. Everybody called her Missy. They were getting married in the fall." Suddenly, a bolt of panic shot through her. "Can't you do anything? You can't just let them stay in there. There won't be anything left of them."

Becker's mouth was set as he shared a look with Cuneo. Both knew the awful truth, that the bodies were already unrecognizable, charred beyond any hope of recognition. Identification and forensic evidence, if any, would mostly come from a lab now. Neither they nor anyone else could do anything to change that.

"Mrs. Hanover," Becker said, "maybe you want to find a place to sit. Or go on home. Whatever happens here is going to take a long while. We can get your address and phone number and contact you in the morning."

But Cuneo wasn't quite ready to dismiss her. "Did I hear you say that you were over here at this house earlier today?"

"Yes."

"Why was that?"

"I wanted to talk to Paul about something, just some family stuff."

"Did you see him?"

She nodded. "Yes. We had some coffee." Her eyes were drawn back to the inferno. Bringing her hand up, she rubbed her forehead. "He can't be in there right now. That's just not possible. And Missy."

"Was Missy there when you talked to Paul today?" Cuneo asked.

"No. I don't know. I didn't see her, anyway."

"So what was the family stuff?"

The question stopped her and she frowned. "Why? What difference would that make?"

Cuneo looked to Becker, who shrugged. He came back to Catherine Hanover. "I don't know. If the man's dead, everything he did in his last hours is going to come under scrutiny. If this was arson, and Inspector Becker here says it is, somebody might have started the fire to kill somebody in the house. I'm going to want to know everything about his last day."

Becker butted in. "Could you please excuse us for a minute, ma'am?" Without waiting for her reply, he stepped in front of her and hooked an arm into Cuneo's to turn him. When they'd moved off half a dozen steps, he said, "Before you go too far with her, maybe you should know that there was a gun under the larger torso, probably the man, maybe this Hanover. Also what looks like a bullet hole in one of the heads. Hers. Maybe in his, too, but I didn't want to touch and turn him to find out."

"So murder/suicide?"

Again, Becker shrugged. "Maybe. That's one thing that fits, anyway. The gun was under his body."

"He did himself and fell on the gun?"

"Maybe. Could be. That works. If the whole place goes up, I've got a roll of pictures I took you can look at tomorrow, then decide. Other- wise, if they can save the foyer, we might pull a break and be able to get in again by sunrise." He glanced at the fire. "Not much before, I wouldn't think."

Cuneo nodded, found his eyes drawn back across the street, where most of the firefighting activity had now come to be centered on the houses to either side of Hanover's. Becker could be right. It looked to Cuneo as though part of the crime scene might be salvaged after all. "So where'd this woman come from?"

"She said she was home watching TV and saw it on the news and recognized the place."

"Where's the rest of her family?"

"I don't know. I didn't ask. Maybe there isn't any rest of it. I had just started talking to her when you got here."

"All right." Cuneo cast a glance over to Mrs. Hanover, who was also staring at the blaze, hypnotized by it. He came back to Becker. "But it's definitely arson?"

"There was definitely gasoline residue under the smaller body."

"Anything else?"

"That's not enough?"

"No, I didn't mean that."

They had moved out in front of Mrs. Hanover, and now both men looked back to where she stood. Her coloring was high, unwitting excitement on her face, in the look in her eyes. With the heat from the fire, she'd removed her jacket and held it by a finger over her shoulder, a posture that emphasized her already generous bosom. "That's a damn fine-looking woman," Cuneo said.

"You going to let her go home?" Becker asked.

Cuneo kept his eyes on her. "Couple more minutes," he said.

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 13 of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2006

    Great Story, Suspect Ending

    Excellent throughout, plot, characters, writing, etc. However, seems like the detached ending was tacked on as simply a means to bring closure. Totally unrelated to the story but not enough of a 'bad' thing to prevent a 5 star rating. Grisham would'nt have felt the need to wrap-up everything with a Hollywood ending. Guess thats what makes him the gauge that other writers are compared to.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2005

    NOT SURE ABOUT THE ENDING

    Having never read a Lescroart novel, the lead characters were new to me and I found them very interesting. As was the story until the last few chapters, where it seems the author just needed a twist ending, which had no relevence to the rest of the book. I would recommend this book and will read future installments in the series. In fact, I am on my way to B&N to pick up Dead Irish, the first in the Hardy series. Hopefully, this book will be written to the end. Not wrapped up with a nice little bow.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Great reading

    When the fire is doused in Paul Hanover¿s Victorian house in San Francisco the charred bodies of two people are found. Dental records show that they are Paul and his live in lover, but both died from a bullet wound. Inspector sergeant Dan Cuneo is assigned to the case and he zeroes in on Catherine Hanover as the suspect, in part because she rejected his sexual advances. Deputy Chief Inspector Abe Glitsky is asked by the mayor to oversee Cuneo¿s investigation because Paul was a friend and a heavy contributor to her campaign.............................. Cuneo hates Abe and makes a run around him with the district attorney so they take the case to the grand jury where they hand down an indictment. Caroline asks attorney Dismas Hardy to represent her; he agrees to do so because she was his first love and because he believes she is innocent. He has his work cut out for him because the prosecution has an overwhelming amount of circumstantial evidence that shows Caroline had means, opportunity, and motive to kill her father in law and his lover....................... John Lescroart has written a fabulous thriller that starts with the intense investigation and ends with a shocking climax in a courtroom; thus this exciting drama contains equal parts police procedural and legal thriller. THE MOTIVE is a mesmerizing reading experience that will satisfy fans of both sub-genres. The courtroom scenes are particularly gripping; especially when Dismas cross examines the prosecution witnesses....................... Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2005

    Once again an excellent novel by Lescroart

    Once again Lescroart has delivered a suspenseful novel with a great courtroom setting. Hardy & Glitsky are the true heroes of San Francisco. The ending was much more than I expected. A great read for anyone who loves a good detective novel with a great deal of suspense in the courtoom.

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